Considering an upgrade? Use our customer satisfaction ratings to see which smartphones are rated highest by Australians.
* Overall satisfaction is an individual rating and not a combined total of all ratings. Brands with equal overall satisfaction ratings are listed in alphabetical order.
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Canstar Blue research finalised in October 2015, published in December 2015.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Smartphones dominate the everyday lives of most Australians in 2015. From humble beginnings with Microsoft’s early Windows phones and the original iPhone back in 2007, the smartphone has become an indispensable tool for communicating with your friends and family, conducting business, making purchases, managing your finances and so much more.
According to Deloitte’s 2014 Media Consumer Survey, Australian smartphone ownership sits at 81% – a number that has no doubt increased in the 18 months since. This huge demand for mobile devices has resulted in a smartphone market which is chock full of products built to incredibly high standards.
Just a few years ago the idea of an affordable smartphone with a massive full HD display, blazing fast processor, professional quality camera, fingerprint sensing and huge amounts of memory would have been laughed at. Today, such features are not just unsurprising in a top-tier phone, they’re expected.
With the unbelievable capabilities of today’s smartphones, it becomes hard to figure out which ones are the best. That’s why, at Canstar Blue, we’ve surveyed Aussie smartphone owners to find out their opinions on our nation’s top smartphone brands. Having used our data to rate smartphone manufacturers in criteria such as value for money, user-friendliness and several more, we’re able to announced that Apple is still top of the smartphone tree.
The world’s most valuable tech company achieved a maximum five-star rating for overall satisfaction, as well as scoring five stars across three other criteria. Even more interesting were the runner-up results, with a whopping five brands – Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Huawei and Microsoft – scoring an impressive four stars for overall satisfaction.
Our overall satisfaction ratings were rounded out by three-star achievers Sony, LG and Motorola, with each of these three still achieving strong scores across the board. For a full breakdown of how our rated brands fared in each criterion, check out our breakdown below.
Value for money is an increasingly difficult thing to find in high-end smartphones. Much like luxury cars, manufacturers are constantly seeking to introduce the latest technology into their flagship models, which drives up prices accordingly. The winner in the value stakes was Microsoft with its Lumia line, recently acquired from Nokia. Microsoft scored the maximum five stars for value, with every other brand achieving four stars, with the lone exception of Apple on three.
Simple, intuitive design on both the software and hardware fronts is more difficult than it seems, making it all the more important that the brands get it right. As you might expect from a company with such a reputation for design, it was overall winner Apple which scored five stars for user friendliness. The simplicity of the iPhone’s hardware controls, combined with the feature-laden and intuitive iOS 9, was enough to push Apple to the forefront of useability. Apple was followed by four star achievers Samsung, HTC and Microsoft.
Photos taken on smartphone cameras far outnumber those taken on dedicated devices these days, and for many people their phone is the only camera they own. Smartphone buyers appreciate a high-quality camera, meaning it was a valuable win for dual five-star achievers Apple and Sony. Both manufacturers place a heavy emphasis on the capabilities of their cameras, resulting in a justified reward. Following these two were Samsung, Nokia, HTC and Microsoft with four star ratings for their camera hardware.
Just about every aspect of the mobile phone has improved staggeringly over the past decade, but there’s one metric which has actually regressed – battery life. Smartphones have transitioned from being, well, mobile phones, to becoming full-on pocket computers, and this increased demand for power has only been met by minor advances in battery technology.
Fortunately, most companies have recognised the frustration that comes with your phone shutting down before you get home for the day, and several phone makers have really upped their game. The trio of Nokia, Huawei and Microsoft (which is essentially Nokia’s new owner) all scored five stars for battery life, making them the go-to choice if you work long, demanding days. Four star ratings were achieved by Samsung, HTC, Sony and Motorola.
‘More is better’ really does seem to be an axiom for phone design this decade, with more and more manufacturers bringing out supersized models that seriously encroach on tablet territory. Despite a growing backlash in favour of sensibly-sized handheld smartphones, bigger is usually still better. This attitude was encapsulated by the five-star rating achieved in this metric by Samsung, makers of the colossal Galaxy Note. In a noteworthy performance however, all other manufacturers scored four stars for screen size satisfaction, suggesting they might only be one maxi-sized phone model away from the top score.
Something affected by screen size is how easy a phone is to handle. It’s a balancing act for most manufacturers. Too big and heavy and your handset will be cumbersome and impossible to use with one hand, but too small and light, and it becomes less capable and easily dropped or damaged. According to our survey respondents, the best phones for ergonomics were Apple and Samsung, with both brands hitting the five-star mark for ease of handling. The remaining brands all scored an impressive four stars, with the lone exception of Sony with three stars.
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a smartphone in the last two years – in this case, 1,769 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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